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Lillian Schlissel analysed the diaries to find patterns and common experiences among the nearly 100 women’s diaries she had access to, and two facts particularly struck me; the first, that the vast majority of women had no desire whatsoever to leave their homes and families and go West, but their husbands made the decision to go, and they had no choice but to follow; and the second, that one in five women on the Westward trail was either pregnant or gave birth at some point on the journey. So...

Old stream engine, Golden Gate railroad Museum.